Mark Webber: factory Porsche driver. It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think.
Sure, it’s not the most surprising news—over a year since it was first mentioned—but it’s now official that Mark Webber has been signed to drive for Porsche in the World Endurance Championship, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, from 2014 on a multi-year deal.
Whether multi-year translates to the five-year deal mentioned in April, or a more circumspect two–three year deal is not certain at this stage.
Mark has been a Porsche enthusiast for many years and his expertise and setup skills developed in Formula 1 should be a great boost to Porsche as it prepares for its 2014 LMP1 program.
“It’s an honour for me to join Porsche at its return to the top category in Le Mans and in the sports car World Endurance Championship and be part of the team,” Mark said. “Porsche has written racing history as a manufacturer and stands for outstanding technology and performance at the highest level.
“I’m very much looking forward to this new challenge after my time in Formula 1. Porsche will undoubtedly set itself very high goals. I can hardly wait to pilot one of the fastest sports cars in the world.”
Porsche will run a minimum of two cars for the WEC series, with three likely for Le Mans. Other drivers confirmed for Porsche are Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, and Neel Jani.
Now that Mark’s F1 future is known the race will be on to see who replaces him at Red Bull Racing. Will it be Kimi Raikkonen or one of the Toro Rosso drivers, Daniel Ricciardo or Jean-Eric Vergne?
World Endurance Championship and Le Mans 24 Hours
Formula 1 pilot Mark Webber to contest Le Mans for Porsche
Stuttgart, 27 June 2013. The Australian Formula 1 pilot Mark Webber has signed a contract with Porsche that extends over several years. From the 2014 season he will compete in Porsche’s new LMP1 sports prototype at the Le Mans 24 Hours and in the sports car World Endurance Championship WEC. The 36-year-old Australian has already raced at Le Mans twice. In 1998 he finished runner-up in the FIA GT Championship at the wheel of a sports prototype. Over the course of his Formula 1 career from 2002 until today, Webber has achieved 36 podium places, nine race victories and has started from pole position eleven times.
“It’s an honour for me to join Porsche at its return to the top category in Le Mans and in the sports car World Endurance Championship and be part of the team. Porsche has written racing history as a manufacturer and stands for outstanding technology and performance at the highest level,” says Mark Webber. “I’m very much looking forward to this new challenge after my time in Formula 1. Porsche will undoubtedly set itself very high goals. I can hardly wait to pilot one of the fastest sports cars in the world.”
“I’m very pleased to have secured Mark Webber for our LMP1 project as one of the best and most successful Formula 1 pilots of our time,” says Wolfgang Hatz, Board Member for Research and Development at Porsche AG. “Mark is without doubt one of the world’s best race drivers, he has experience at the Le Mans 24 hour race and on top of that he’s been a Porsche enthusiast for many years.”
“I learned to appreciate Mark’s qualities when we were both involved in Formula 1,” says Fritz Enzinger, Head of LMP1. “He is one of the best pilots I could imagine for our team. I’m absolutely delighted that we have such an experienced and fast regular driver onboard from 2014.”
Competing in the new LMP1 car alongside Mark Webber are the two long-standing Porsche works drivers Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) as well as the ex-Formula 1 test driver Neel Jani (Switzerland). Bernhard and Dumas already joined forces in 2010 to bring home overall victory from the Le Mans 24 hour race. In the years 2007 and 2008, they secured the American Le Mans Series title at the wheel of the RS Spyder LMP2 sports prototype. Neel Jani has contested the LMP1 class since 2010.